Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Red Bull Ring, 2021

Hamilton predicts Russell will ‘bring the heat’ at Mercedes

2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton predicts a strong challenge from George Russell at Mercedes next year but believes the pair can have a harmonious relationship.

Russell’s move to the world champions was confirmed earlier this week. He has impressed since arriving in Formula 1 with Williams in 2019, and surprised by qualifying second on the grid at Spa in very wet conditions last month.

Hamilton said he paid attention to Russell’s rise through the junior categories, including his championship successes in GP3 (now Formula 3) and Formula 2. “I’ve watched a lot of the racing that he’s done, moves that he’s done,” said Hamilton. “There’s no doubt that he’s incredibly talented.

“I’ve not looked into detail where he’s weak or… that’s not something I really put much energy towards. I just know he’s going to continue to get stronger even in these next nine races and next year again he’ll be bringing the heat, for sure.”

Russell is part of an exciting new generation of talent in Formula 1, Hamilton added. “He’s a part of that younger group, I think the young talent that’s coming through is so great for the sport and it’s the future of the sport.

“I think new, fresh blood in our team is going to be great, obviously because I’m the oldie there. I think that definitely will energise the whole team, knowing that they have a new youngster coming through who’s super-hungry, driven and will be pushing the team forwards.”

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While Hamilton has had difficult relationships in the past with some team mates, notably Nico Rosberg at Mercedes and Fernando Alonso at McLaren, he is confident that can be avoided after Russell’s arrival.

“It’s different in each team ultimately how it’s managed. It’s quite a strange sport where it’s a team sport, but it’s also an individual sport, so you’ve got those two championships. Individually, you want to finish ahead, but at the same time you’ve got to do the job to get the team ahead.

“So it’s a difficult one to navigate through. But I like to think that we’ve experienced it and learned from it and therefore should be pretty well-set moving forwards.”

During Mercedes’ deliberations over who to hire, Hamilton said he gave positive feedback on both Russell and current team mate Valtteri Bottas, and did not try to block Russell’s appointment.

“That’s not really my style, I think. Ever since I joined this team, I remember joining in 2013 and I remember saying to Ross [Brawn, team principal] that I just want equal opportunity.

“That’s the most rewarding position to be in because if you do the work and you do succeed, then you know you’ve done your job against whoever it is at their best. Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that’s not something that interests me.”

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2021 Italian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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33 comments on “Hamilton predicts Russell will ‘bring the heat’ at Mercedes”

  1. Only a few seasons back I would have half expected Lewis to decide that his music and clothing interests were of more interest to him than struggling with a hungry young kid.
    He seems to have changed a lot (to me anyway) since then and I am hoping that he will give us some stellar performances as he now has both Max and George determined to take his crown.

    1. As we’ve seen in recent races, age is catching up to Hamilton. if he can retain his fitness, then there’s no doubting his race craft. But if he’s more and more exhusted as we’ve seen it could lead to mistakes. I’d sooner not see that. I’d sooner he retire than loose his edge.

    2. Lewis hasn’t changed, you were simply wrong back then.
      As have been a lot of people on the subject of Hamilton.

      1. But luckily we have you to correct all those mistakes.

  2. Hope the Red Bulls, Mercs, Ferraris and McLarens will all be in contention for the title next year. It’s going to be exciting with new generation of drivers all driving race-winning cars.

    1. Soon McLaren will get it. Or sooner.

  3. We’ll have to see what challenges are created with the new engine and the new package.
    It would be nice to think Mercedes will have the same dominance, but somehow i doubt it.

    If they dont’ have that big a margin over the other teams, or even fall behind the other teams,
    then they wont be able to afford in-fighting between the drivers. They’ll need a co-ordinate
    campaign to take on their rivals for the championship.

    So yeah, its all well and good to say they allow the drivers to compete. Who knows they may
    decide to have Hamilton in a supporting role to Russel, in which case that might be Hamilton’s
    que to leave the team.

    Hamilton will be key to Mercedes making the best use of the new package… so let’s just see.

  4. Lewis will come out on top next year. Russell will be smart if he spends the years learning all of the tricks from the master before he retires and better prepare himself. Russell most likely will be a respectful team mate, will keep team unity and take over as the team leader when Lewis retires.
    Lewis retirement is very near anyways so i expect both of them to not have any serious issues.

    1. If Russell is near Lewis’ pace or above it, it would be silly for him to waste a year where he could show his talent against the most successful driver in F1 so far and go down in the history books.

    2. Russell most likely will be a respectful team mate

      If so, he will never be a wdc

      1. Bottas never mounted a real challenge. It was Weber Vettel all over again.

        Reply moderated
      2. Hamilton is one of the most respectful drivers and he won 7. Drivers can also win by being faster than their competitor.

        1. Hamilton has failed to beat his team mate twice and in both cases, he fell out with his team mate big time. He’s respectful when he wins – he plays mind games and has a nasty edge when he doesn’t. That’s part of what’s required to be the best and is a trait shared by almost anyone who has dominated the sport for a period of time.

          1. Lewis fell out with Rosberg in 2014, nothing to do with whether he beats him, Rosberg played dirty tricks, Lewis didnt fall out with Button he fell out with Martin Whitmarsh and he left Mclaren gracefully

  5. Coventry Climax
    9th September 2021, 23:49

    “Winning when someone’s wings are clipped, that’s not something that interests me.”
    Valtteri Bottas’s wings were clipped repetitively though.

    1. By his lack of speed and race craft.

      1. And the teamorders, the insteuction to slow down ond to stay 2 seconds behind lewis for example. Those orders were never the other way aroumd, a clear 1st and 2nd driber at merc. Always was that way and always will be

        Reply moderated
      2. They were clipped when he was in front of Lewis. So that’s an interesting observation.

        1. Not really. Bottas is a sideshow, feel free to enjoy it erikje. Lewis is the main event.

        2. Give one example apart from Russia 2018?

        3. Whilst that’s true, when that happened he was already miles behind in the title fight. In the bigger picture, he’s always been given a fair shot at the start of the season and once he’s already let himself down, Mercedes start favoring Lewis.

        4. Yes, you said that about Silverstone. You believed Hamilton should have stayed behind Bottas for third place, and not gone on to win it. Many Max fans said the same.

    2. Bottas never really capitalised early to mid-season. He started fairy strong at points but couldn’t sustain it, so wasn’t properly in the fight when it counted, and so Mercedes had to consider the threats from Ferrari and Vettel choose whether to risk Bottas taking points off Ham (essentially the driver who has repeatedly delivered). They decided it wasn’t worth the risk and used team order. This is F1, you can’t give your competitors a sniff, you have to be ruthless otherwise you’ll likely regret it

  6. Alonso,button,rosberg and now Russell….that’s a strong list of teammates Lewis has/will have…3 of the being wdcs ofcourse…naturally the number 1 status thing will only happen when 1 driver is out of the championship battle.

  7. Russell will have to be very fast with experience beyond his years to prevent Hamilton’s ninth WDC.

    1. Two at once then?
      There will be no 8e this year. M

  8. I doubt that Hamilton expects anything less that a huge challenge from Russell just like he presented a huge challenge in his first year in F1.
    If Russell proves to be as good as current expectation, and actually beats him, I’d also expect Hamilton to be pretty gracious in defeat – he’s really lot got anything he has to prove any more. That being said, I expect him to fight like hell to stay at the top, like you’d expect any top level driver to.

    Bring on 2022, new cars, new exciting driver pairings and at last hopefully a chance to see racers actually race each other.

    1. I’d also expect Hamilton to be pretty gracious in defeat

      that really would be a first then..
      A champion is bad at losing, Lewis starts moaning from the beginning.

      1. All Great champions are sore losers, they break Tennis rackets, clubs, throw tantrums and resort to dirty tactics on the track or the field

      2. So I don’t see why people would have a problem with Lewis’s moaning, unless they just hate the man himself.

      3. We get it @erikje, you dont like him! Your not convincing very many nagging abort Ham. You should go inte a Chamber with alot of time delay and say whatever you like and expect only compliance.

  9. No one can predict what their relationship will be like. But when two ambitious talents get in each other’s way, it’s rare that one of them backs down. If Russell reaches Hamilton’s high level and Mercedes is competitive at the same time, there will be at least a few spicy moments.

    Rosberg and Hamilton were once friends, and it didn’t take much to strain the relationship. When the former was still paired with Schumacher, Rosberg also seemed like the respectful youngster, not unlike Russell, who nevertheless did everything he could to outrun the legend.

    However, the special ingredient of a world championship fight was missing. With Hamilton, things became increasingly serious. In the event of another world championship battle, the friendly words will quickly be rendered meaningless. If another team like Red Bull gets involved, there could also be further conflicts of interest at Mercedes.

    Many are using this discussion to see Hamilton as either a saint or a devil, but in the end he is also just a human being who has had his modest and generous moments, but also political and dubious ones. I don’t think he will be solely responsible for the couple’s failure or functioning.

    Lastly, I’m curious about the influence of the press, especially the English press. Even though I don’t follow them as specifically as I do the German, the press has never seemed completely devoted to Hamilton as it once was with Schumacher here. With two Englishmen at Mercedes now, it could get interesting.

    1. Wait, what?
      A fair and balanced comment here on Racefans?
      Can’t be true!

      I do hope Mercedes doesn’t have a lead in 2022 like in the first years of the hybrid era. Well, if Russel is allowed to race, then we can finally see some action within Mercedes. Bottas is a nice bloke, but he’s no match for Lewis.

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